The baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, continue to exit the skilled trades left and right. Between planned retirements and COVID-induced early exits, the skilled trades feel the tangible loss of individuals with decades of experience and wisdom, and the loss continues to grow. 

Baby Boomers Widen the Skilled Trades Gap 

An article entitled Okay, Boomer: Demand for Skilled Trades in America shares exactly how many positions, as of March 2020, baby boomers hold:

  1. 542,680 Electricians
  2. 262,170 Civil Engineers
  3. 5,088,030 Construction and Extraction Occupations
  4. 403,100 Welding, Soldering and Brazing Workers
  5. 392,460 Pipe layers, Plumbers, Pipe fitters and Steamfilters
  6. 258,630 Mechanical Engineers
  7. 251,700 Heating and Cooling
  8. 168,100 Electrical Engineers
  9. 391,130 Machinists
  10. 230,580 Industrial Engineers
  11. 306,860 Industrial Machinery Mechanics

Since the skills trades gap– the number of positions available versus the number of people willing to fill those positions– existed before baby boomers started to retire, the gap continues to expand as more and more boomers leave the skilled trades arena faster than they’re replaced. On the bright side, this increase in available positions creates a career field with countless stable and lucrative skilled trades paths to follow. 

Lessen The Skilled Trades Gap by Educating Youth

Things like toilets, homes, electricity, vehicles, and the modern world as we know it are not a phase. Skilled trades represent careers with longevity and staying power. Couple that stability with the fact that “for most of the highest paying trade jobs, their accompanying salaries come in near or above the $61,937 mark, which is what the median household income in the United States is” and you have a compelling argument for why the skilled trades deserve consideration and admiration.

Encourage children to think about who built their homes and their bicycles and their toys and their town’s fire trucks. Then when children become young adults, encourage them to explore all their post-high school options, including the skilled trades. Even among adults, encourage those looking for a new career path to consider skilled trades.

The world needs interest in and the pursuit of skilled trades more than ever before, and tackling this issue starts with encouraging and inspiring youth to think of skilled trades as a stable, lucrative, and exciting option. Lessening the skilled trades gap begins with the truth: The modern world will not survive without men and women passionate about pursuing and obtaining a career in skilled trades.